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Mulch/Compost question

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Mulch/Compost question

Post  jjc on 2/25/2013, 8:09 pm

I have a pile of mulch from last year in the back yard but it has had grass and maybe weeds growing from it. It was not contained by anything it was just a pile I would add to and turn over once in a while. It has plenty of vegetables and fruits from the peach and apple tree but I think the pits are in there as well. Seems to me I read in the new book - no fruit pits. It also has ash and charcoal bits from the wood stove, leaves and grass from the yard. I think the base was soil from the yard mixed with the things I mentioned here. I don't think it's good enough to be used for the compost part of the sfg but what do you guys think. I would love to buy new mulch but don't as of yet have it in the budget. Thanks, John


Last edited by camprn on 2/26/2013, 9:14 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : corrected title)
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OOPS

Post  jjc on 2/25/2013, 8:22 pm

Did I post this question in the wrong place? John
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Re: Mulch/Compost question

Post  llama momma on 2/26/2013, 6:48 am

You describe a mix that I would call compost, but you are calling it mulch. Do you want to use it as mulch, or as compost in Mel's Mix?
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Re: Mulch/Compost question

Post  mollyhespra on 2/26/2013, 8:39 am

I've heard/read where people use their compost as mulch--maybe that's part of the confusion? But I agree with LM, what you've got sounds like compost to me also.
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Re: Mulch/Compost question

Post  Gunny on 2/26/2013, 9:07 am

Or you could call it composted mulch :LOL:
Seriously I would sift it out and start using it, but I try and save a buck anywhere I can.
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Re: Mulch/Compost question

Post  llama momma on 2/26/2013, 11:41 am

Lets say you had roughly equal parts of veggies, fruit, leaves, and grass. Mel's Mix, the compost portion, consists of 5 or more ingredients. You would add one more. Any chance you have access to bunny or llama manure or even bunny food - meaning the pelleted food that comes in bags? I'm thinking I'd like to see a nice nitrogen source added to your mix. Ideas, Anyone else?
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Re: Mulch/Compost question

Post  CapeCoddess on 2/26/2013, 12:37 pm

@llama momma wrote:Lets say you had roughly equal parts of veggies, fruit, leaves, and grass. Mel's Mix, the compost portion, consists of 5 or more ingredients.

I did not know this about the home made compost.

CC
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Re: Mulch/Compost question

Post  llama momma on 2/26/2013, 12:46 pm

Yes indeed. Ideally, your compost portion should have 5 or more ingredients. You want a wide variety of nutrition in there. Those ingredients combined becomes the 1/3 blended compost portion of Mel's Mix. The rest is 1/3 vermiculite, and 1/3 peat.
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Re: Mulch/Compost question

Post  CapeCoddess on 2/26/2013, 1:01 pm

I knew that about store bought but didn't realize that it pertains to home made. So just using leaves and grass wouldn't cut it, right?

CC
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Re: Mulch/Compost question

Post  llama momma on 2/26/2013, 1:31 pm

I would say no based on the directions by Mel because of the limited nutrients that is being offered by just 2 sources.
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Re: Mulch/Compost question

Post  camprn on 2/26/2013, 1:32 pm

@CapeCoddess wrote:I knew that about store bought but didn't realize that it pertains to home made. So just using leaves and grass wouldn't cut it, right?

CC
Throw in some kitchen scraps, coffee grounds and hit up some local farms for manure, toss it all in and you'll be good to go. Very Happy

Find a local farm in Massachusetts. http://www.mass.gov/agr/massgrown/map.htm

But back to the OP, I too think you are describing what I would call compost vs. mulch. Mulch is typically used as a cover over the garden soil and around the garden plants to suppress weeds and retain moisture. Much can be wood chips, shredded bark, pine needles, leaves, straw and any number of other things.

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Absolutely Rite!

Post  jjc on 2/26/2013, 5:29 pm

You guys are absolutely rite, I meant compost instead of mulch. So you think if I add some herbivore manure or rabbit pellet food and maybe sift out the pile for the pits it may be suitable? What about any weeds that may have started to grow from it, could that be a problem? It's a frozen pile rite now so I'm not sure how decomposed everything is. But could I get that pile in shape soon enough to be used this spring? I haven't finished the book yet so I haven't looked at proper planting times. By the way did I post this question in the correct spot or should it have been under something else like compost? Thanks for every ones help! John
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Re: Mulch/Compost question

Post  camprn on 2/26/2013, 5:44 pm

John, I will move this post to the Compost thread. Very Happy

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Re: Mulch/Compost question

Post  Firefly on 2/26/2013, 7:36 pm

Manure is a great addition but my understanding is that is should be composted very well before adding to gardens. thinking I haven't heard of anyone using rabbit pellet food before I don't see why it wouldn't be ok to add. Personally, I would also add a few more things to the compost to round it out (as mentioned previously...coffee grounds, egg shells, etc and if you happen to be able to...seaweed if it's been rinsed well...makes an amazing addition due to trace minerals it contains).

Also, depending on weather and such..compost can take up to 18 months before it's "ready".

If the compost has reached the proper temps then you shouldn't have to worry about having weeds sprout due to the compost. Usually it's recommended not to add weeds that have started to set seed in your compost pile. Once, when I was helping a group set up a new SFG using their compost...it hadn't reached high enough temperatures and so weed and veggie seeds (from garden material that was put in the composter) started to sprout...it was still decent compost but we had a bit more weeding to do than is usually required with an SFG.
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Re: Mulch/Compost question

Post  RoOsTeR on 2/26/2013, 7:51 pm

@Firefly wrote:Manure is a great addition but my understanding is that is should be composted very well before adding to gardens. thinking I haven't heard of anyone using rabbit pellet food before I don't see why it wouldn't be ok to add. Personally, I would also add a few more things to the compost to round it out (as mentioned previously...coffee grounds, egg shells, etc and if you happen to be able to...seaweed if it's been rinsed well...makes an amazing addition due to trace minerals it contains).

Also, depending on weather and such..compost can take up to 18 months before it's "ready".

If the compost has reached the proper temps then you shouldn't have to worry about having weeds sprout due to the compost. Usually it's recommended not to add weeds that have started to set seed in your compost pile. Once, when I was helping a group set up a new SFG using their compost...it hadn't reached high enough temperatures and so weed and veggie seeds (from garden material that was put in the composter) started to sprout...it was still decent compost but we had a bit more weeding to do than is usually required with an SFG.

Great points firefly Like a Star @ heaven

I know some folks feed rabbits alfalfa pellets. Maybe that's what the OP was referring to thinking Anyways, I add alfalfa pellets to my compost and it's great stuff! Really cheap and another way to add some green and get some heat generated in the pile.

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Re: Mulch/Compost question

Post  yolos on 2/26/2013, 7:57 pm

I have a question about these alfalfa pellets you all keep talking about. Last year when I first started composting, I read here that that was one way to get the pile to heat back up. So I went looking for them to buy. The only place I could find them were in a pet store sold as rabbit food. I asked an old time Feed and Seed store and they told me a cheap all purpose feed mix for goats etc was what I wanted. He said they do not sell just alfalfa pellets. So exactly what do I ask for when trying to buy this.
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Re: Mulch/Compost question

Post  RoOsTeR on 2/26/2013, 8:14 pm

Yes, the pellets at pet stores are generally overpriced, and can sometimes have a long list of ingredients...
I get 50# bags at the feed store for about $18. They're used a lot to feed cattle/dairy cows, goats, etc. I let my horses nibble on them from time to time as a hand treat. You will find them at a feed store for livestock. I've tried the wafers before, but prefer the pellets. They work GREAT for generating heat!
I googled and found a ton of images:
https://www.google.com/search?q=alfalfa+pellets&hl=en&rlz=1C1CHFX_enUS511US511&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=T10tUcnLOomRqQHI2ICQCg&ved=0CG4QsAQ&biw=1280&bih=909

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Re: Mulch/Compost question

Post  yolos on 2/26/2013, 8:40 pm

Thanks Rooster, that is what mine look like. I went out in the garage and looked at the bag. On the outside, it just said Livestock Feed. The bag had pictures of a horse, cow, rabbit. But on the inside of the bag there was a tag that said:
Ingredients - Alfalfa
Crude Protien 17% min
Crude fate 1.5% min
Crude Fiber 32% max
This appears to be what I need.

One more question. I had a 4' x 4' compost pile that I turned 3 or 4 times as needed. It was made out of finely shredded live oak leaves, grass, veggies, dinner scraps, plus a small amount of other things. Everything is decomposed except the oak leaves (they always take a long time). So if I turn it again, how much of the alfalfa pellets do I need to use to get it hot again so the leaves will continue to decompose faster. Lets say I put a 6 inch layer of the partially composted leaves down, how much alfalfa pellets should I mix into this layer. One gallon, 5 gallons ???
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Re: Mulch/Compost question

Post  RoOsTeR on 2/26/2013, 8:53 pm

I usually sprinkle several good handfuls in between the layers. They will break down very quick so you can add as much as you need to get the heat up. I typically use them when my compost is nearing the end and just needs a little pick me up to finish. I use plain ole cornmeal and cleaned up chicken feed for this as well.

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Re: Mulch/Compost question

Post  camprn on 2/26/2013, 9:14 pm

@Firefly wrote:Also, depending on weather and such..compost can take up to 18 months before it's "ready".
SO true. Conversely, I have made usable compost from scratch in as little as a month, granted it was labor intensive and required activator (dried blood) but it is doable. What a Face

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